Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 1, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Image by Paul Laguette

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 1, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 1, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: If IMS does not immediately lift the Indy-area TV blackout rule for the 500 in August, that would be blatantly wrong and unfair. And really, it’s the only thing I would complain about with this process, given all that IMS has to juggle. So since it’s IMS (and state guidelines) that is shutting out 50% of the spectators, they are hitting those fans with a double-whammy by not allowing them to at least watch the race on live TV. I’m sure NBC would prefer to lift the ban, too. And I think I read Boles saying they have no plans to change this (correct me if I’m wrong)? I still plan on attending the 500 with my son, even though many/most of our somewhat large Turn 3 group will not. They deserve to at least watch it live.

Brian in Indy

RM: IMS says its still selling tickets for August 23, so why would it announce the blackout is being lifted now instead of the very last minute? That’s what they did in 2016, so I think I’d wait and see what happens.

Q: Great article regarding the ‘whine club’. Let’s for the sake of argument just remove any concern or consideration for public health, mask wearing, politics, etc. So, why will The Captain likely not let everyone into the 500 in August, allow people to manage their own risk, and decide what to do on their own in true American fashion of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? The answer is pretty simple, and the same as why almost all other major sports will play in ‘bubbles’ only to a TV audience (existing plan), and that high-school/college sports are likely out completely for the 20-21 season (my humble prediction).

Nobody of sound mind will accept the liability that is sure to arise when somebody gets sick (or tragically, much worse…) after catching the virus and then want to blame (i.e., sue…) IMS, anyone or anything except their own choices/behaviors (or even just biologic probability). The Captain knows what he is doing. Let’s be thankful that he has the wisdom, judgment and savvy to execute a 500 in any form this year.

Scott B., Gainesville, FL

RM: Well you asked a question but you answered it yourself and all I have to add is that R.P. has been adamant Indy will have fans – regardless of what that number is – because they’ve always been the lifeblood of the event.

Q: I appreciate the ‘cancel the whine club membership’ article. After watching the Texas race I was left wondering why IndyCar should even have the season – just pack it up and plan for 2021. Seemed like there were several drivers who didn’t want to be there, and were comfortable being on an extended vacation. Many fans didn’t seem to appreciate the race; more than just the normal number complaining. Now people are upset because Roger Penske is trying to engage fans and create the best possible Indy 500 experience under the difficult and ever-changing conditions.

Now, I know racers and fans bitch a lot — I am a weekly racer and we all have our excuses ready when we enter the track. Didn’t have time to work on the car, tires are old, everyone else is cheating. But I don’t remember the other national series asking for my input before they announced to the world that their fans are racists, which now makes the gear I have purchased over the years symbols of racism and hate. I see two different approaches going on here: the other series is taking the fans for granted with no care at all about how they are impacted, and IndyCar under Roger Penske’s guidance is trying to include fans and make sure a great race is put on with the best possible fan experience. So here’s the question… Which would people rather hear, “Hello, how can I help you?” or “Just give me your money!” Do you agree?

Mike, Northern California

RM: I think, based on his desire and follow-through to run Indy with fans and all the improvements he’s already made at IMS, that Roger Penske appreciates the fans first and foremost in his new role.

This part of Indy 500 race day will look pretty much the same in 2020. But the rest of it is anyone’s guess. Image by Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: Those quick to criticize The Captain should consider what this would look like if Hulman & Co. were still in command. I’m with you, Robin, I was sick of Penske dominance on the track years ago, but he is truly the one person I find fit to helm this huge ship. The guy you so aptly describe as being the smartest in the room, the one who hires all the best people, makes all the best moves at the most opportune moments (except full-filling Mears on his last stop in ’82!) is the only one with the interest, love for the sport, and money to make it happen. I’m convinced Mr. Penske is going to put on the best 500 possible this year, and every year.

Bill Bailey

RM: I don’t buy that IMS would have been padlocked or IndyCar would have folded under these circumstances if Tony George was still the boss, because he spent a lot of money putting open-wheel racing back together and he loves IMS. And Mark Miles added some competent people on the board like Mitch Daniels, and had some good ideas during his reign. But I think everyone just has more confidence today because R.P. is the owner/leader/visionary going forward.

Q: Short and sweet. If IMS is going to reissue tickets for the August running of the 500, my only suggestion would be to take this opportunity to put Roger Penske on the ticket. Your thoughts?

Todd in Indianapolis

RM: The Captain isn’t going to stop the tradition of the race winner being on the ticket, especially to insert himself, and it’s also a nice promo for John Menard. But I wouldn’t have any problem with R.P. being on the program cover.

Q: Been a big fan of your for years and even a bigger fan of Roger Penske. Have you ever talked to him about writing his autobiography? It would be an awesome read.

Chuck Berghorst, Zeeland, MI

RM: There should be a book and it would be a helluva read, but I’ve never talked to R.P. about it.

Q: What is the possibility of A.J. entering four cars whenever the Indy 500 runs? Kanaan, Kimball and Kellett are already entered, but what about Bourdais?

Todd J. Burnworth, Fort Wayne, IN

RM: I asked Tex several weeks ago, and he wasn’t optimistic.

Q: With all of this year’s craziness, I seem to have missed the ‘who outside the regular guys will run the 500?’ rumors. Any news on Kyle? Jimmie? Fred? Any other outliers?

Shawn Lee

RM: I believe Alonso’s car was unveiled yesterday and Johnson is going to test an IndyCar for Ganassi next week but he’s not running at Indy. No Kyle Busch either, but maybe Kyle Larson?

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